Jackie Chan Bashes Hong Kong; Gets Rewarded by China with Box Office Record for "Chinese Zodiac"

Jackie Chan in "Chinese Zodiac"

Jackie Chan used to be the most beloved actor in Hong Kong, his birth place. It was almost a yearly ritual for the Hong Kong people to bring their entire family to watch his latest action comedy during Chinese New Year (or whenever one of his films opened). Looking at the top 100 highest grossing films of all time in Hong Kong was almost like looking at his filmography, since his films dominated the charts.

Conversely though, he’s probably the most hated actor for making a couple of patriotic statements in favor of mainland China. He angered the Hong Kong people by stating that they protest too much, especially against the Chinese government, and that the government should limit what they could protest. Prior to those comments, he said that HKers’ freedom should be limited because too much freedom could lead to chaos. The statements sounded great to mainland Chinese, but to the Hong Kong people who are used to their freedom granted under the British government, it’s like taking many steps backwards.

I’m not sure if Jackie Chan still has a manager, but when Willie Chan was his manager, he had a squeaky clean image. Without that sounding board and image guidance, Jackie Chan seemed to express his controversial opinions too freely, angering the public.

How did Chan’s controversial statements affect his box office? Surprisingly, it’s as you would expect. "Chinese Zodiac,” Jackie Chan’s latest action comedy, bombed on opening day in Hong Kong, but broke the opening day record in China.

During his later years, Chan was still one of the top draws in Hong Kong whenever he made an action film: “New Police Story” (HK$21M), “Rob-B-Hood” (HK$24M), and “The Myth” (HK$17M) were all hits in Hong Kong, even though they didn’t generate the record-breaking figures of his glory days.

That streak ended with “Chinese Zodiac” which was only able to rack up a measly HK$0.5M (US $64K) on opening day, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In China, it’s a different story. “Chinese Zodiac” broke the all-time opening day record with $43.5M yuan (US $7M). If it continues at this pace, you can expect other records to be broken in the coming weeks.

It’s understandable why Chan doesn’t care about angering his hometown because compared to the fast-growing Chinese market, the box office revenue from HK is just chump change. A hit movie in Kong Kong grosses a few million US dollars. A hit in China can now gross a HUNDRED million, which is where “Chinese Zodiac” is headed towards if it’s not front-loaded.

Still, it’s no excuse to bash your hometown and your birthplace. I’ll never bash Sacramento.

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